John and Cynthia Burke, New Jersey residents, had long waited to adopt children. The Burkes went through the tedious undertaking and had filled out the appropriate paperwork; they dotted all of their ‘i’s’ and crossed all of their ‘t’s’. The couple were well-capable of bringing children into their home and had decided that placement through a state agency would be best suited for their circumstances.
However, their initial request to adopt a second child was denied due to their lack of religious affiliation. Both parties were confirmed atheists and pantheists, respectively and felt that to deter the agency into thinking otherwise would be detrimental to their selection for parenting.
After the initial denial, the courts overturned the rule requiring parents to have a religious affiliation on file (bizarre?) in order to adopt. However, shortly after the approval was reached, the issue was brought to the table through another vein: Superior Court Justice William Camarata. Camarata reversed the decision to allow the adoption because of a lack of belief in a “Supreme Being.” The Justice stated that the child, although very young and of course, easily-influenced, should be allowed to worship a deity as saw fit by the child itself. After the child had initially been approved for adoption, the Court ruled that the child was to be sent back to the New Jersey state agency until further investigation had been attempted through the agency.
The couple (with their first adopted child) now live in Illinois and are still awaiting decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding the adoption of this child. For now, the child remains in limbo, awaiting a fate that solely relies on whether or not the parents are found to be suitable caretakers – which is clearly based upon a religious affiliation or in their case, a lack thereof.
Although the parents are fiscally responsible and according to the Court, “ethical” and “moral”, they are currently being denied the child that they so desperately want because they don’t relate to any specific religious sect.
While I was raised in a religious household and was brought up in a church, I don’t feel that a lack of spirituality on the parents’ behalf should (or would) cause a detriment to a child’s development. I find that the majority of people I know (people that were raised in specific “churches”) don’t embrace the religion that they were subjected to in their early years.
Religion is a dish best served cold. Children should be raised to embrace all paths of spirituality, not just required to follow one particular path. Religion is a tricky topic; individuals often develop and hone their own religious persuasion and adapt and build from what they’ve learned as a child.
For a government who implemented “separation of church and state,” what, eight thousand years ago?, it sure appears that their eating their own notions for dinner.
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